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Saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis was the architect of James Brown's era-defining soul classics of the late '60s, introducing the dynamic arrangements and punishing rhythms that would define the emerging language of funk. Born Alfred Ellis in Bradenton, FL, on April 21, 1941, he was raised in Lubbock, TX, and was playing professionally by the time he reached middle school. In 1955, his family relocated to Rochester, NY, where he collaborated with classmates (and fledgling jazzmen) Chuck Mangione and Ron Carter. Ellis spent the summer of 1957 under the tutelage of sax giant Sonny Rollins, and after graduating high school he returned to Florida to form his own R&B combo, Dynamics Incorporated. The experience honed his skills as a writer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, and after a brief stint with the Sonny Payne Trio he joined the James ...
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